OVER the last couple of weeks Peter Tatchell, leader of Outrage, has been denounced as “a fascist”, “a terrorist”, “one of the least attractive characters in British public life” and, most damning of all to some, “an Australian-born Vietnam draft-dodger”.
It is Tatchell’s recent drive to ‘out’ supposedly gay bishops in the Church of England that has ruffled the sensitivities of the rightwing press (which has recently ‘outed’ Joan Lestor and Michael Foot as “agents of influence” for the KGB).
Coming from the church, whose moral hypocrisy knows no bounds, and MPs who are gay or bisexual, but disgustingly do not support gay rights in parliament, all this is a bit rich.
It is wonderful how the media has almost exclusively set its guns on Tatchell and defended homophobes and powerful and dangerous hypocrites as the victims.
However the episode does expose the whole strategy of Outrage - based on the conviction that the only way to combat homophobia is by making the personal ‘political’.
Thus it concentrates solely on the private lives of prominent individuals in bourgeois society. This project rejects revolutionary change from below, which in reality is the only way to sweep aside bourgeois society and all its rotten prejudices and bigotry.
Outrage is also premised on the reactionary view that ‘gayness’ and ‘straightness’ are two absolutely distinct categories, and the twain shall never meet. As Suzanne Moore of The Guardian correctly pointed out, “Any historical or anthropological study of sexuality demonstrates that the idea of a distinct homosexual identity is a relatively new one. It depends entirely on heterosexuality being an entirely watertight category.” (March 16) A healthy society would allow scope for fluidity when it comes to sexual identity, not resort to pigeon-holing.
It is the task of communists to be champions of the oppressed, which means absolute opposition to all forms of bigotry and chauvinism. Therefore, we are in the vanguard when it comes to challenging homophobia within the working class and the labour movement, as well as bourgeois society as a whole.
It has to be said that ‘official communism’, even our own ‘official’ Communist Party of Great Britain, has an abysmal - if not criminal - record on this matter.